MIAMI (CBS4) – The trauma surgeon for wounded Miami-Dade Police officer John Saavedra says he is making remarkable progress after being hit by three bullets in a shootout at a suspected marijuana grow house.
The surgeon said the 34-year-old Saavedra could leave Jackson Memorial Hospital as early as this weekend after the Tuesday night shooting at the home in Southwest Miami-Dade.
A veteran Miami-Dade Police officer who’s been on the force for nearly 25 years and who has had extensive experience in the department’s drug unit told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he was truly touched by what he saw inside Saavedra’s room at Jackson Memorial Hospital where his family is at his side.
He’s doing very well. He is in excellent spirits,” said Major Charles Nanney. He told D’Oench that Saavedra is a “great cop.”
“He is a model type cop,” said Nanney. “The guy wants to get back to work as soon as possible. He’s got serious injuries but he’s already walking around doing everything that doctors are telling him and he is in great spirits and he’s actually an inspiration to people coming to see him.”
And that’s why officers have been flocking to the Ryder Trauma Center to visit Saavedra.
“A lot of fellow officers are coming out to see him,” said Nanney. “It’s a tight department. This is something very serious. You know he got shot while he was doing his job. He actually got shot while doing his job. But he’ll bounce back quick. Just say your prayers for him. He’ll be back at 100 per cent. He’s an inspiration.”
Nanney said this shooting demonstrates how dangerous an officer’s job can be.
“Police work is very dangerous,” he said. “It’s in the contract where it says our work is very dangerous. It just shows how more people should be aware of how dangerous this job is day in and day out. It is 24-7. You never know when your call could be your last call, when that drug deal you are looking into could be the last deal.”
Saavedra’s trauma surgeon told reporters Thursday that Saavedra is making remarkable progress.
“He’s actually doing really well,” said Dr. George Garcia. “He is in good spirits. He is walking. And he started a liquid diet today. It could have been much worse. His injuries were very serious. He was shot three times. He has two holes in his thigh from a bullet that went in and out. He has three holes in the lower right side of his abdomen.”
Garcia said one bullet is still lodged in Saavedra’s pelvis.
“He had two small holes in his intestines which were repaired,” said Garcia. “And there were two holes in his bladder which were repaired.”
Garcia said Saavedra’s bullet-proof vest “may not have been a factor” in his wounds as they appeared to occur below the vest.
The news conference was attended by a several Miami-Dade Police detectives who applauded when it concluded.
Police say the incident unfolded Tuesday night. Detectives in plain clothes flashed badges and asked for consent to search a grow house that they later discovered had 80 pounds of marijuana worth $90,000 inside it.
They say they saw 59-year-old Luis Estevanell going in and out of the home that was owned by 56-year-old Gerard Delgado.
Police say as they approached the home, Delgado, who was hiding in his BMW while protecting the grow house on Southwest 60th Court near Coral Way, started firing his weapons.
They say three Miami-Dade Police detectives including Saavedra and an F.B.I. agent were forced to return fire. Saavedra was wounded. Delgado was killed.
Estevanell was charged with felony 2nd degree murder, possession of cocaine and trafficking in marijuana.
In court Thursday, he was denied bond, even though his attorney Philip Horowitz told a Judge that “he is 59 and has no prior record. He has been a self-employed jeweler for the past 34 years. Clearly he has no involvement in the decision by Mister Delgado to pull a gun.”
In court, a prosecutor told a Judge that Estevanell’s “co defendant did open fire at police prompting them to open fire and that did result in a death.”
Outside court, Horowitz said Estevanell had no involvement in the shooting and he was hoping to get a reasonable bond.
Delgado’s widow Isabel said on Wednesday, “I think it’s all a misunderstanding. I don’t believe this.”
His son Gerardo Delgado Junior said, “He was a great man. He didn’t deserve this. What happened to him was a travesty.”
While his father had no criminal record, records show Gerardo Delgado Junior was charged with marijuana possession in the past.
On Wednesday, when asked about the alleged grow house, he said, “I have no comment.”